Swinton and Simprim, Berwickshire, Scotland Genealogy
This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Swinton & Simprim. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.
SWINTON and SIMPRIM, a parish, in the county of Berwick, 5 miles (N.) from Coldstream. This parish comprehends the old parishes of Swinton and Simprim, which were united in 1761. The name of the latter is of very uncertain derivation; that of the former place, which is of great antiquity, is vulgarly said to have been derived from the number of wild boars with which the lands were anciently infested. The church, erected in 1729, and enlarged and repaired in 1837, is a neat edifice adapted for a congregation of 500 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship.
The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/. Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for your parish of interest. Also available at the Family History Library.
A census record is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about Scotland Census Records.
Click here[low quality link] to see the Family History Library Catalog entry for the 1841-1891 census records of Swinton & Simprim, as well as the catalog entry for the 1841 census surname index for Swinton. Other surname indexes will be found on the Berwickshire county page.
The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access the separate indexes through the library.
The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about Scotland Church Records.
Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.
Established Church—Old Parochial Registers
|Event Type||Years Covered||FHL Film Number|
|Births:||1665-1674, 1700-1819||1067903 item 8|
|1769-1854||1067904 item 1-3|
|1700-1761 - Simprim||1067904 item 1-3|
|Marriages:||1698-1760||1067903 item 1-3|
|1769-1854||1067904 item 1-3|
|1699-1761 - Simprim||1067904 item 1-3|
|Deaths:||1697-1719||1067903 item 8|
|1820-1841||1067904 item 1-3|
Condition of Original Registers—
Index: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births: Only five entries of baptisms occur until January 1707, after which date births, marriages, and deaths, Mortcloth Dues are intermixed until 1719. There are no entries December 1720–1733. Irregular entries for 1759–1824 are found on six pages after the record for 1760. Mothers’ names are rarely recorded until 1761.
Marriages: Transcribed entries of proclamations occur in the record until November 1706, after which date births, marriages, and deaths, Mortcloth Dues are intermixed until 1719. Marriages are recorded on parallel columns of the register of births for 1720–1760. There are no entries January 1721–1733 and May 1760–May 1769, after which the entries are mixed with other matters. Transcribed entries of irregular marriages for 1807–1819 are found after marriages for Simprim.
Deaths: Mortcloth Dues; There are no entries 1719–1769. In 1770, these records are mixed with marriage records. There are two entries of death for 1804 and 1814.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.
Established Church—Kirk Session Records
The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The Kirk session was made up of he minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.
Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:
FHL Film Number
Register of Baptisms 1668–1674 0304666 item 9
Simprim Minutes 1699–1714, 1734–1761
Simprim Cash Record 1668–1684
Swinton Collections 1769–1776
Swinton Minutes and Accounts 1697–1706
Accounts of the Combined Parishes 1800–1819
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/346.
Nonconformist Church Records
A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union List.
In 1834 there were about 25 dissenter families but no chapels within the parish. They would have attended worship services in neighboring parishes.
Swinton Free Church
This congregation was organized immediately after the Disruption. They built a church first in 1843 and another in 1860. The members were mostly low-income working people.
Membership: 1848, 260; 1900 248.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details are given in the source.
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/393.
Civil Registration Records
Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called Statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.
See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.
Swinton & Simprim were under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Lauder until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Duns. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk . You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Berwick and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Lauder.
The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Berwick]. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Berwick and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'
Read more about Scotland Probate Records.
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 519-526. Adapted. Date accessed: 03 April 2014.
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